Abandoned paddy fields for algae culturing?

Abandoned paddy fields for algae culturing?

Postby mellotango » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:35 pm

Hi there,

I live in the tropics of South East Asia, where basic agriculture is a way of life and we are surrounded by plenty of paddy fields for growing rice. However, there are also many fields that have been abandoned for various reasons. What are you opinions on using such abandoned rice fields for the purpose of culturing microalgae?

Rice is usually grown in rectangular parcels of land, where each parcel of land is flooded in order to obtain the best growth productivity. The height of the flooded water is about 10-20 cm (similar to the height of water in algae open pond systems in order obtain the optimum sunlight) Each rectangular parcel of land is separated from other parcels by earth levees in order to retain the water necessary for flooding within each land parcel. Soils for rice planting tends to be clayey also.

Given the easy availability of such abandoned fields, is it a practical idea to reuse such land for growing algae suitable for biofuels? Of course, resilient strains of algae to avoid contamination must be selected, such as specific strains of marine algae local to this region, in my thinking. And instead of irrigating the land with fresh water, we could use seawater from nearby coastal waters. to flood the land Once the algae is harvested via traditional means, we can use the hot tropical sun to dry off the algae flakes in less than half the time compared to temperate climates. And yes, we do have a carbon emitting source nearby. What I'm looking for is the ultimate low tech but yet efficient way of growing algae, and of course at the very least possible cost. Although optimum growth may not be as high compared to modern open ponds/raceways, but this might be more than offset by cheap land, and cheap labour costs here.

I'm only concerned with the possibility of contamination by unwanted species. Does any experts here think this might still be a big issue, even with using robust marine algae strains?

I also often see modern open ponds completely lined with a plastic mulch, is this to separate the algae and water from the contaminative effects of the soil underneath?

And lastly, would there be any advantages in choosing abandoned rice fields over abandoned prawn farms, which are also a common sight here?

Thank you in advance!
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